Sewing is an art form that lies somewhere between a lost relic and a self-sustaining skill. With so much of our clothing being streamlined by corporate industries, the hunt for individualized pieces can be a challenge on a tight budget. Over the course of time, however, sewing has become a combination of both skill and artistry, easily acquirable with some practice and minimal effort.

As it has caught on via word-of-mouth among millennials, more people are willing to learn about its simplicity. Sewing is a modern skill that anyone can learn and develop, although it may be intimidating. For some, it could be up there with astrophysics and organic chemistry. But with the sewing expertise of Cori Cake of Cattail Outfitters, you too can be a sewing master.

Cake, who does all the fabric gathering, design making and sewing for her company, has hats for sale all over Gainesville in locations such as Pop-A-Top and Pleasant Cyclery. While managing her company, she also works a day job and, at one point, also attended school.

Is she capable of accomplishing such feats because she is an absolutely talented individual who excels above the average human capacity? Most likely. But that doesn’t mean sewing requires an excess of brain power on your part.

Sewing is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-learn skill. Learning the basics takes about 30 minutes, and, with a little trial-and-error, you can piece together simple items such as a messenger bag, or even custom-fit your favorite pair of pants.

Once you have a good grasp of sewing, the confidence to work on other projects will follow.

The Internet is a great resource, and you can find an endless supply of free instructional videos that are easy to access. With an abundance of bloggers willing to divulge their sewing secrets to beginners, you can easily learn the lingo and shortcuts.

Getting started is less intimidating than you may think, and you aren’t alone in learning!

With the help of Cake, you can learn to make a useful, inexpensive and simple messenger bag for any occasion. Below are some pro tips, supplies and a how-to for a messenger bag you can share with all your friends. Sew… let’s get started.


  • Velcro
  • Marker
  • Sharp scissors
  • Needle or machine*
  • Thread
  • Fabric and liner fabric
  • Strap

Pro tips:

  • Extra large jackets found at thrift stores usually have enough fabric to cut into pattern pieces.
  • Belts make for great crossbody straps.
  • If your outer fabric isn’t already waterproof, use an old shower curtain as your liner fabric.
  • Haven Hospice Attic on Northwest Eighth Avenue has a sewing section!

Steps (For a good time, follow me!):

  1. Find your supplies. Try Jo-Ann Fabric, Walmart or Haven Hospice Attic. When you can, shop local.
  2. With your marker, trace a rectangle that is 15 inches wide by 24 inches long on both your liner and outer fabrics. Cut them.
  3. Place the two pieces of fabric together with the outer sides facing each other. Sew around the edges, ½ inch from the edge and leave one side unsewn.
  4. Turn this piece inside out, fold the unsewn edge inward and sew on top of it ¼ inch from the edge.
  5. Cut your velcro 13 inches long. Sew the rougher velcro to the inside top of your bag ½ inch from the top edge.Use this stitch pattern to secure the velcro:Sew the soft velcro piece to the outer fabric on the opposite side, 5 inches from the edge, using the above stitching technique.
  6. Fold your bag into a section so that you will create a 7-inches-tall pocket.
    With the lining fabric facing outward, insert the straps between the folded fabric, making sure they will not twist when you turn the bag right-side up.
  7. Sew along the outer edges, ¼ inch from the edge.
  8. Flip it right-side out!

You can hand-stitch this entire bag. If you want to invest in a solid sewing machine for beginners, here’s what to look for:

  • A new sewing machine from Walmart is about $75 to $80. You can find a used one on Craigslist for about $50. Look for a machine with:
  • Reverse stitch (you’ll see a little reverse or U-shaped symbol on a button somewhere)
  • Straight stitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Circular knob on the right side, and it has other knobs with numbers on them that control things like tension and stitch length